shelf

noun \ ˈshelf \
Updated on: 10 Nov 2017

Definition of shelf

plural shelves play \ˈshelvz\
1 a : a thin flat usually long and narrow piece of material (such as wood) fastened horizontally (as on a wall) at a distance from the floor to hold objects
b : one of several similar pieces in a closet, bookcase, or similar structure
c : the contents of a shelf
  • the author of a shelf of best sellers
2 : something resembling a shelf in form or position: such as
a : a sandbank or ledge of rocks usually partially submerged
b : a flat projecting layer of rock
c : the submerged gradually sloping border of a continent or island : continental shelf

shelfful

play \ˈshelf-ˌfu̇l\ noun

shelflike

play \ˈshelf-ˌlīk\ adjective
off the shelf
: available from stock : not made to order
  • off the shelf equipment
on the shelf
: in a state of inactivity or uselessness

Examples of shelf in a Sentence

  1. Put the vase on the shelf.

  2. the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet

  3. Will you get that book down off the shelf?

  4. We don't have much shelf space.

Recent Examples of shelf from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'shelf.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of shelf

Middle English, probably from Old English scylfe; akin to Old Norse hlīthskjalf Odin's seat

Other Furniture and Woodworking Terms


SHELF Defined for English Language Learners

shelf

noun

Definition of shelf for English Language Learners

  • : a flat board which is attached to a wall, frame, etc., and on which objects can be placed

  • geology : a flat area of rock, sand, etc., especially underwater


SHELF Defined for Kids

shelf

noun \ ˈshelf \

Definition of shelf for Students

plural shelves \ˈshelvz\
1 : a flat piece (as of wood or metal) set above a floor (as on a wall or in a bookcase) to hold things
2 : a flat area (as of rock)


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